Bedřich Smetana’s 195th birthday anniversary
March 2, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio in Warsaw
Bedřich Smetana was younger than Stanisław Moniuszko by five years – and despite considerable differences in their biographies, one can notice many analogies in the creative approaches of both composers. Smetana is regarded as the father of the national Czech music, which he understood as a combination of classical music and the heritage of folk culture (rarely citation, rather a reference to dance rhythms, melodies, legends and fairy tales) and praising the history and beauty his homeland. The programme of the concert is a recollection of his greatest works – a comic opera The Bartered Bride (represented with its overture – filled with energy, contrasts, joy and dance), whose significance of Czech culture can be compared to the meaning of The Haunted Manor for the Polish culture. Má Vlast (My Homeland), however, is a set of six independent symphonic poems, recalling old legends and important sites in the Czech history. Relatively short symphonic pieces, with stunningly beautiful melodies, colourful orchestration and suggestive illustration, can be performed in various combinations or as stand-alone works (the second part, Vltava, is commonly played alone; Its majestic theme is preceded by one of the most entrancing episodes of the symphony: an introduction with marvellous solo parts on flutes and clarinets, symbolising the intertwining brooks forming the great river…) The last part, Blanik, recalls a legend of a mountain inside which the knights of St. Wenceslas has been sleeping for ages, ready to awake in the country’s gravest hour. The path traced out by Smetana was followed by Antonín Dvořák, composer of the Late Romantic period, particularly acclaimed for his symphonies. The 1889 Symphony No. 8 is filled with joy and optimism, as well as references to national music, though it does not attempt to render any extra-musical narrative. The composition became very successful both in Bohemia and abroad. Until now it remains, along with the famous Symphony No. 9, one of the most performed Dvořák’s symphonies. The concert will be conducted by Piotr Sułkowiski, the General and Artistic Director of the Warmia and Mazury Philharmonic in Olsztyn. Sułkowski has an extensive experience in opera, gathered as the conductor and then the Artistic Director of the Krakow Opera and the Music Director of Wildwood Festival Opera Orchestra AR (USA). He is a co-founder of Krakow Chamber Opera. Sułkowski collaborates with numerous orchestras and teaches conducting at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz. He is a member of the Artistic Council of Jerzy Semkow Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra.